Branch&Scott SciAm 2009 Evol&ID

Branch&Scott SciAm 2009 Evol&ID - The Latest Face...

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The Latest Face of Creationism Creationists who want religious ideas taught as scientific fact in public schools continue to adapt courtroom defeats by hiding their true aims under ever changing guises BYGLENN BRANCH & EUGENIE C. SCOTT rofessors routinely give advice to students but national spotlight as a state that pursues politics 92 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN usually while their charges are still in school. Arthur Landy, a distinguished professor of molecular and cell biology and biochemistry at Brown University, recently decided, however, that he had to remind a former premed student of his that "without evolution, modern biology, including medicine and biotechnology, wouldn't make sense." The sentiment was not original with Landy, of course. Thirty-six years ago geneticist Theo- dosius Dobzhansky, a major contributor to the foundations of modern evolutionary theory, fa- mously told the readers of The American Biol- ogy Teacher that "nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution." Back then, Dobzhansky was encouraging biology teachers to present evolution to their pupils in spite of religiously motivated opposition. Now, however, Landy was addressing Bobby Jindal- the governor ofthe state of Louisiana-on whose desk the latest antievolution bill, the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, was sitting, awaiting his signature. Remembering Jindal as a good student in his genetics class, Landy hoped that the governor would recall the scientific importance of evolu- tion to biology and medicine. Joining Landy in his opposition to the bill were the American In- stitute of Biological Sciences, which warned that "Louisiana will undoubtedly be thrust into the over science and education," and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which told Jindal that the law would "unleash an assault against scientific integrity." Earlier, the National Association of Biology Teachers had urged the legislature to defeat the bill, plead- ing "that the state of Louisiana not allow its sci- ence curriculum to be weakened by encouraging the utilization of supplemental materials pro- duced for the sole purpose of confusing students about the nature of science." But all these protests were of no avail. On June 26, 2008, the governor's office announced thatJindal had signed the Louisiana Science Ed- ucation Act into law. Why all the fuss? On its face, the law looks innocuous: it directs the state board ofeducation to "allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that pro- motes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied," which includes provid- ing "support and guidance for teachers regard- ing effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique, and objectively review scien- tific theories being studied." What's not to like?
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Branch&Scott SciAm 2009 Evol&ID - The Latest Face...

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